10 small businesses win EDGE grants

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The Delaware Division of Small Business announced that 10 small businesses Wednesday were winners of the sixth round of Encouraging Development, Growth and Expansion (EDGE) grants.

Winners include companies that created an app for parents to track school buses, a beer garden venture , an apiary, and an electric company.

The grants were announced the at Sweets & Treats Studio in Dover, one of the small businesses awarded an EDGE grant in December 2021.

“The EDGE Grant program is helping our state’s newest small businesses expand and innovate by providing much-needed capital assistance that these businesses may not have access to otherwise,” said Gov. John Carney. “The small businesses awarded a grant in this latest round of EDGE represent the best Delaware has to offer, and we are excited to see how the grant funds help their businesses grow.”

Businesses who are less than five years old and employ no more than 10 are eligible to apply for an EDGE grant. The grants are awarded through a competitive selection process. STEM-based companies can receive up to $100,000 for eligible expenses while Entrepreneur Class (non-STEM) businesses can receive up to $50,000.

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EDGE is a matching grant program. The Division of Small Business matches a winning business’s investment on a 3-to-1 basis. The business can spend EDGE grant funds on expenses that help improve the company’s long-term chances of success, such as a marketing campaign to help acquire more customers or purchasing a needed piece of equipment that can increase production capacity and efficiency.

Since EDGE launched in 2019, $4.2 million has been awarded to 68 promising Delaware small businesses in industries ranging from wearable medical devices to farming to restaurants.

This is the sixth round of funding for the program since it launched in 2019. In this latest round, which opened in September, more than 120 businesses applied for funding. Fourteen finalists gave public presentations before a panel of expert judges on December 6 and 7 in Dover.

The winners in this round of EDGE funding include a diverse pool of small businesses. Seven out of the 10 winners are women-owned businesses, three are veteran-owned businesses, and two are owned by minorities. Since the program’s inception, 41 percent of EDGE winners have been women-owned businesses, and 27 percent have been minority-owned.

“The EDGE grant competition allows our division to support small business owners in Delaware who are making significant scientific advancements, creating unique products, and helping strengthen their local communities,” said Division of Small Business Director Regina Mitchell. “Our division is proud to support these worthy small businesses and help them succeed in their efforts.”

One of the winning businesses in the latest round of EDGE funding is Rail Haus, a beer garden slated to open later this year in Dover. Rail Haus will use the $50,000 in EDGE funds to purchase outdoor heaters, firepits, trees, sod, and a sprinkler system for the beer garden.

“We are honored and excited to be selected as a winner of EDGE grant funding in this round,” said Rail Haus co-owner Donny Legans. “Our goal is to open a year-round destination beer garden in the heart of downtown Dover and winning this grant is the next step in helping our plans come to fruition. The EDGE grant funding will allow us to make significant investments in the outdoor space at the beer garden so we can offer our customers the best experience possible.”

EDGE Grant Recipients

STEM Class

A. I. Whoo (Newark)
A.I. Whoo is working to develop a mobile application for clinicians to conduct gait assessments using a smartphone. A gait assessment is the evaluation of the way someone walks and is used to diagnose disorders in walking patterns. Current gait assessment technologies require patients to go into an office to be evaluated. The A.I. Whoo app will enable gait assessments to be conducted remotely. EDGE grant funds will be used to develop the mobile application software and market it to clinicians.

Rotulu (Camden)
Rotulu is developing an application that provides real-time busing information for parents and schools with the benefits of instant messaging and alerts, two-way communication, and an easy-to-use interface. Rotulu is currently beta testing features and receiving valuable, real-world feedback from charter schools, which is ensuring the solution being built is accurate and effective. EDGE grant funds will be used to build out the desired functionality in the parent communication app, integrate the app with Android and Apple devices, enhance existing cloud infrastructure, and create additional features in the app.

All Azimuth Solutions (Magnolia)
All Azimuth Solutions (AAS) is developing and commercializing proprietary technology, including the electronic Community Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Toolkit, known as eCAT. The eCAT platform will house a repository of information to include educational and outreach materials, AAM demonstration playbooks, and community leaders’ decision support tools to integrate AAM into communities. The EDGE grant will be used for eCAT software development and deployment, association fees, a demonstration booth, marketing materials, advertising, and website improvements.

BioCurie (Wilmington)
BioCurie is a startup in Wilmington that is developing the world’s first AI-based software to transform the current state of cell and gene therapy (CGT) production from today’s brute-force “hit-or-miss” approach to a new data-driven paradigm. This innovative software will enable biopharma to swiftly and efficiently develop and manufacture CGTs that are safe, effective, and affordable. The EDGE grant will fund the commercialization of BioCurie’s first product for gene therapy manufacturing.

Voice 4 Impact (Wilmington)
Voice 4 Impact (V4I) delivers sustainable technology solutions to create safer and healthier communities. With their patented technology, V4I is at the forefront of observing and understanding human behavior. V4I’s solution connects people, communities, and data to increase awareness, create greener traffic solutions and build equitable funding goals. As a result, agencies make a 1:1 connection with the public at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional methods. EDGE grant funds will be used to staff, develop, and scale V4I’s platform to serve more utilities, tolling and transportation facilities in order to expand the company’s reach.

Entrepreneur Class

BlackDog Behavior and Training LLC (Wilmington)
BlackDog provides accessible behavioral support to Delaware dog owners with private in-home training and post-adoption support for animals adopted through local shelters. Even more central to the mission, however, is to support its surrounding community through advocacy, education, and access to resources. Initial grant funding through EDGE will foster BlackDog’s expansion into a more sustainable operating model utilizing a standalone space for training activities.

Sassy Bee Honey LLC (Bellefonte)
Sassy Bee Honey is a Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) apiary founded with a passion for curating handmade products while having a positive impact on the environment and increasing accessibility to locally-sourced products throughout Delaware. Sassy Bee’s current business model utilizes Micro Apiaries, utilizing small clusters of bee colonies in several locations. In 2021, 700 pounds of honey was extracted and processed from 10 colonies. The EDGE funding will be used to renovate a 400 square foot space and purchase more efficient equipment in order to increase production capacity.

Nourish Markets (Wilmington)
Nourish Markets provides 24-hour access to healthy, affordable, and sustainable foods, snacks, beverages, and ready-to-eat meal options. Nourish Markets is forging a pioneering path in the health and wellness convenience food industry by establishing Delaware’s first 100% autonomous marketplace. The mission of Nourish Markets is uncomplicated – to make healthy food, snack, and beverage options accessible, convenient, and affordable to all consumers while employing industry-leading technologies. The EDGE grant will be used to purchase frictionless hardware equipment so the company can expand and open a second location in Wilmington.

Rail Haus (Dover)
Rail Haus’ mission is to be a great beer garden, all the time, for everyone and aims to be the first year-round beer garden in the state. With a focused investment in both the inside and outside space, Rail Haus will be the destination spot Dover deserves and have a large, positive impact on the surrounding community. This family-friendly, dog-friendly project will be smartly operated, inclusive, and fun. The EDGE grant will be used to purchase outdoor heaters, firepits, trees, sod, and a sprinkler system.

Pink Electrical Services (Clayton)
Pink Electrical Services (PES) provides expert electrical services to Delaware businesses and homeowners. PES offers free estimates and reliable, high-quality service. Their electricians maintain a professional demeanor and great customer service while performing at the highest level. The EDGE grant will be used to purchase up to two work trucks which would enable the company to hire a crew comprised of electricians and journeymen.

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